Matt Dorey

A bird is sitting on the grass with a kite

A Letter to a Friend, 2014

Cover image for post entitled A Letter To A Friend

I found this letter to a friend typed out in my Evernote notes. Given that I wrote it in a card, I must have typed it out afterward (I don't really draft letters). Perhaps the writing of it inspired me at the time.

I present it here with a few edits and additions. I think I must have typed it up quickly, which backs up the written-then-typed theory, and I felt the need to expand some points. I’ve also removed personal references to my friend. I was still looking for a job at the time and wouldn't get one till four months later:

Dear Friend,

I'll begin by saying that I don't expect all of our correspondence to be conducted in fancy cards with New Yorker cartoons on, but I saw this one and thought of you. I figured we should start in the manner in which we'd carry on in the ideal world.

I don't have any grand plan of what to write and I don't wish to moan about my situation. On my way home from the store where I bought this card in lieu of a writing set (because in my situation one desperately wants to avoid accumulating too much stuff), I thought about how we form new thoughts. To me it seems like we can only generate new ways of thinking from doing new things. Visualisation is one thing – doing them is another.

Because I am writing job applications I write a lot at the moment about how great my models were and what a worthwhile business-crucial activity it is. It's a horrible thing to have to sing the praises of those long Thursday afternoons debugging code in that sweaty greenhouse in Colindale, but the past is what you make it, not necessarily what it was. In a way, it's a form of modelling too.

But modelling is just visualisation – you simplify the system until you think you understand it and then you try to turn what remains into a cakewalk. The problem is that in this process you inevitably throw away the thing that will cause unexpected events, and you threw it away precisely because you don't understand or appreciate it or its importance.

And it's not just modelling that's like this, it's everything.

The realisation I am coming to is that there is little to be gained from building a second reality on top of the existing one. You might control or understand your meta-reality or model or what-have-you but something within its substrate will always kick out and throw you off.

I'm resolved to living in the moment and counting my blessings. Of course I crave normality and stuff and so on – life was and will be easier with a wage – but from now on the only thing I expect is the unexpected. I learnt this on my travels.

You're wise, so I assume (possibly incorrectly) that you know this already. I don't want to be one of those guys who travels for a bit and then starts spouting new age guff. Nevertheless my advice is to open your mind and your ears and your eyes to everything, all of the time, and love it all1. There are terrible things out there but many of them can be faced and some of them even defeated by taking this attitude.

This is perhaps my core belief now, the thing that I believe in, above all else. If you engage with the world on your terms with hope and happiness, things will get better.

Maybe now I have hit upon the things that I shall write to you about. Makes the card look like a good choice doesn't it?!

All the best,


  1. I think I ripped this off from somewhere. ↩︎

Cover image is "Small letter boxes" by IanVisits, found on flickr. As per the creative commons license, I made no modifications to the original image.

%d bloggers like this: